Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    I have loved the other three books I have read by Sue Monk Kidd, and in this new novel she strays far and in doing so creates a compelling story of Biblical times with a twist. Here is my Book Review of The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd.

    Kidd herself says she is audacious to write this fictional tale, based period of Jesus in the first century. But instead of following the practiced story from the New Testament Kidd gives Jesus a wife. Ana is the key character of The Book of Longings.

    Imagining a world for women during this period we follow Ana from her upbringing in a wealthy but unloving family in Galilee, to her first meeting with Jesus and through their eventual marraige, which saves her from being forced to become a concubine for Herod Antipas.

    In the ensuing years of marriage Jesus and Ana each develop their own spiritual beliefs, with Jesus setting off to follow John the Immerser and eventually declaring himself the long awaited Messiah, King of the Jews. Ana and Jesus are separated for several years during his pilgrimage and she finds her own voice in her spiritual writings, even while women are not allowed to do such things or be educated.

    Followers of Jesus are unaware he is married, or that Ana and Jesus lost a baby girl at birth. In Kidd’s story these unknowns about Jesus are never recorded.

    Despite much trial and a long endured separation, Ana and Jesus are reunited, but of course we all know how Jesus’ life ends.

    I loved how Kidd takes the biblical stories we all know, elaborates with other historical facts we may not know, and then peppers the story with fictional detail that blends seamlessly and beautifully to round out the life of all the characters; most names we will recognize.

    Particularly poignant for me was the focus on the Jesus as a human being not a divinity. The overarching message is one of bold and strong women of the time-period, who persevere despite strict control by males to keep women subordinate. The triumph of this story is Ana’s will and courage, a beautiful account of a woman finding her voice during a historical period where society wants to silence her.

    I loved this book.

    *****Five stars for The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

    Read last week’s review of The Night Watchman

    My current read Wolf Hall

    The links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a comission if you click through and make a purchase.

    At Home  --  Inspire

    My System for Organizing Digital Photos

    This is my system for organizing digital photos. It might not work for everyone but it works for me. I use an iPhone and a MacBook so if you are not using Apple products your system will need to be different. For those of you who are not Mac users, I have included in this blog information about Google Drive photos (see below). So at the request of some of my friends, I have put together this blog that lays out my system for organizing digital photos. I hope it can be helpful to you.

    Photo Library
    Me with my first iphone

    What Kind Are You?

    I read an interesting article once that placed digital photo people into three different categories; casual, moderate or enthusiastic. My photo library has 59,000 photos and nearly 400 videos. I’m pretty sure I fall into the “enthusiastic” category. Or crazy. I think my husband would label my photo taking as crazy.

    I was a Mac user before I was an iPhone user and the day I realized my two devices were going to be talking to each other was the day my life changed. I mean really. It didn’t take me long to give up my SLR camera altogether and use my iPhone as my sole camera. I currently have an iPhone 11x and it takes beautiful images. Even though I have a few complaints about the iPhone 11, photos are not one of them. So I take lots of photos every day and I need a good system for organizing my digital photos.

    Photo I took in 1980 on my first film SLR when I was learning photography in college. That’s my husband…before he was my husband.


    Before I get into storage let me talk briefly about editing. On the iPhone you can adjust the light level before you take a photo by tapping lightly on the screen and adjusting the up and down toggle for brightness. But often I don’t have time to do that if I need to capture a fleeting moment. And so I do it in edit mode after. The iPhone editor has a wide variety of options for lightening, brightening and adding color to your images. Sometimes I will turn a color photo into a black and white photo for dramatic effect. You can warm up a photo or cool it down. It’s all very user friendly.

    Photo drama
    I added color and drama to this image taken from a moving car.

    Sometimes I use the bounce or loop feature on the iPhone and I really enjoy the long exposure feature. When traveling I find I love it for any water image, storms or even traffic.

    Iguazu Falls before editing
    Long exposure photography
    Iguazu Falls in Brazil, long exposure image

    Another cool feature with the iPhone is the live camera. I keep live on all the time. If I capture an image where the subject may have moved unexpectedly or a car moved into the frame, often you can go back to the live edit and skip back a frame or two to easily make your photo perfect. Super easy without needing to be a techno whiz.

    Old Route 66 gas station before editing
    Filters on photos
    Using Snapseed I made this old Route 66 gas station look very vintage

    The only other edit program I use is a very rudimentary app called Snapseed. In Snapseed I can add lots of dramatic color to a stormy photo. Or I can make an old vintage truck look even more old and vintage. I can make my photos look like they were taken on a Polaroid camera 40 years ago – or a number of other very simple edit options. I use Snapseed often and don’t find I need any other complicated editing software for the purposes I use my photos for.

    Before editing too dark
    Lightening a photo
    In this image I was in the shadow with bright light behind. I used Snapseed to lighten up the forefront of the image. This image also is in portrait mode, one of the features on the iPhone 11

    Types of Storage Options

    Not so long ago all my photos were printed and put into photos albums. I still have all those photo albums and one long term project goal is to eventually transfer those to digital.

    Photo Albums
    All my old photos albums from 1970-2006

    Not so long ago I was storing photos on CDRom and thumb drive. I hated this system because I didn’t seem to be able to keep these organized or find them easily, needing to pop the CD or thumb drive in and out of the computer.

    Then came the wonderful cloud.

    Today there are a variety of photo storage options available and everyone has their favorites. My photos are in iCloud, while other people prefer options like DropBox, Shutterfly, or Picasso. Amazon Prime has a photo storage program, but I haven’t been able to find anyone who uses it. From my experience the two most popular are Apple iCloud and Google Drive. Since I don’t use Google Drive I asked a fellow blogger, Slavka, to share a little about Google Drive:

    Do you have a Gmail email address? If you do, Google offers other convenient services that you can access via your Gmail email account. Google Drive is one of them and it’s great cloud storage for your photos and other files.

    Google Drive Photo Storage
    Google Drive Photo Storage is popular and reliable

    So how to use it? First of all, you need to have or open a new Gmail email account. With this email account, you have 15 GB of free space. You can use this free space for any of the connected services such as Google Drive, Google Docs, or Google Sheets. You can access these by clicking on the 9 dots icon that appears in the top right corner next to your login icon. Click on the triangle icon of Google Drive. This is a space where you can store photos, videos, audio files, documents files, etc. You can group then into separate files and share them with others via a sharable link.

    Google Drive storage is convenient for the temporary storage of recent photos or the ones you want to share. Older images and files should be downloaded to an external storage drive for archiving. Or, if you want to keep them available online, you might need to pay for additional cloud storage after you run out of free space. Currently, Google charges approx. $28 per year for 100GB of cloud space.

    Link to my blog:

    Thanks Slavka. Be sure to check out Slavka’s wonderful travel blog on the link above.

    So, the iCloud photo storage works basically the same way. It’s free for the first 5G and then you pay monthly for additional storage. For a long time I paid $4 a month for 200GB but now I pay $10 a month for 500GB. My photos are automatically uploaded regularly to the cloud.

    iCloud photo storage
    Using iCloud photo storage works for me and millions of other people.

    No matter which storage system you chose, keeping your photos organized is the challenge. For me it’s a big committment given the number of photos I have and my constant need to access them. Here is how I do it.

    Organizing my Images

    When you open the iCloud photo library, you can go to File in the top left hand corner. Click on File and you will get an option to create an album. In my photo library I have dozens of albums. I have albums for family, friends, house and garden, genealogy, cycling, hiking and camping, and of course cats. (LOL). Then I have an album for every country we have visited. Sometimes I will combine a couple of countries to save a little space. Additionally I have separate albums where I store art work for my blog, birthday funny memes, or things I might want for holidays on social media. I have one whole albums for Seahawks and Cougar football memes.

    digital photos
    My photo library

    Creating the albums is the easy part. The hard part is continually moving your new images into the files. Here is how I do that:

    Every few weeks I sit down and delete images. Ideally you should be doing this daily or minute to minute on your phone, but that doesn’t seem to happen for me. So I go through and delete duplicate images, poor quality images or other images I don’t want in one go.

    Photo organization
    Albums for all the things I love and want to keep organized

    I check the date I last moved images to albums and after deleting I start with that date and begin moving the images (click and drag) into the albums. Sometimes an image might end up in multiple albums (for example family album and hiking album). This way I can find it easily for future use.

    Photo storage
    Working on deleting hundreds of images

    The Big Delete

    Since I’ve had A LOT of free time on my hands these past few covid months, I began a new delete project. Going to the overarching file called Photos, where all images are from all albums, I started with the oldest images and slowly am going through and deleting. I have found there are photos I don’t even remember taking or where I took them. Some photos that seemed important at the time, no longer have meaning for me (the first time I saw a wild baboon it seemed impressive…now so many thousands of baboons later who cares). And so I delete. This is very time consuming but will eventually help my overall storage issue. I am committing a few hours a week to accomplish this task by the end of the summer – it’s about ten years worth of photos, but an important goal for organizing digital photos.

    So What About External Hard Drives?

    For a couple of years before I went all Mac I used to have an external hard drive I would plug in to my PC and back up my photos regularly. But I haven’t done that since I went to 500 GB in the cloud, as I feel confident in the system I am using. However, I recently purchased a new external hard drive called Photo Stick that stores 128GB of data. I haven’t started using it yet, but I decided it was worth it to have it since it is very small (like a thumb drive), has a huge amount of storage, works continually and will help me clean up duplicates. It also will offer me even more peace of mind. Hopefully it actually does all those things. I paid $79 for it.

    So What is Best for You?

    Remember in the beginning when I asked what kind of photo person you are? Determining the answer to that question is your first step in getting your images organized and safe. As an “enthusiastic” photographer, as well as a blogger, travel writer and very active social media user, my photos are incredibly important to me in my day-to-day life. I consider myself a good photographer, after years of practice and a small amount of training, and photography is an important hobby in my life. So I spend both time and money making sure my images are protected, accessible, and good quality.

    No matter what kind of photographer you are, you can start organizing your digital photos with a little knowledge and commitment. Good luck!

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

    This is my third book I have read by author Erdrich, and unfortunately my least favorite of the three. Here is my Book Review of The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich.

    Although the story, which is based on Erdrich’s grandfather’s life, was good, I found parts of the plot too mystical and fantastical.

    However, I did really enjoy the characters Erdrich developed in this fictional story of Native American life and trails. Her grandfather is featured as one of the main characters, Thomas, a night watchman at the local bearing plant where he lives on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. Thomas, a tribal leader takes the fight agaisnt dispossesion form North Dakota all the way to Washington D.C.

    The story follows Thomas and his struggle with the US Government, while also following Patrice, a young native girl who goes searching for her missing sister Vera. Patrice, somewhat coincidentally, falls in with a riffraff group of individuals, who know the whereabouts of her sister and her sister’s baby. On her search Patrice encounters a lot of horrible things, including some dreams and visions that guide the story.

    Two young men who both have falling for Patrice figure prominently in the tale, as the impoverished reservation and it’s residents seek a life of love and compassion, amidst the toil and poverty and lack of promise they all must endure.

    ***Three stars for The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich.

    Read last week’s review of American Dirt.

    My current read The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

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    At Home

    Covid Cocktails for a Summer Lockdown 2020

    Delicious and Fun Cocktails

    Covid Cocktails for Summer Lockdown 2020

    Lockdown is easing, but we still will be finding summer 2020 a bit of a lonely place; no summer concerts, parades, fairs and events. Many weddings postponed, graduations and parties done virtually. How will Fourth of July look? And our favorite restaurants and bars? They just won’t be the same for a while.

    Summer 2020 is gonna need some creative energy to pull us through and that is exactly what I have for you here today! I’ve been “researching” (ah-hem drinking daily) for this blog for two weeks and I think I am ready to share my Covid Cocktails for Summer Lockdown 2020. You can thank me later.

    The Social Distance

    Covid Cocktails The Social Distance
    The Social Distance

    (AKA Tequila Sunrise) Our version of this delicious and inspiring summer cocktail comes together easily but with rum instead of tequila. Combine 12 oz of orange juice and 3 oz of dark or light rum. Pour a third into one ice filled glass and a third into the second glass and set a third aside. Add two tablespoons of grenadine to the third you set aside and slowly pour over the top of the two glasses. Garnish with lime.

    The Quarantini

    Covid Cocktails The Quarantini
    The Quarantini

    (AKA Dilly Dirty Martini) I’m a sucker for a gin dirty martini, but this version tastes like summer using dilly beans and the juice from the dilly beans instead of olive juice. Add 6 oz gin to a martini shaker, 1 oz dilly juice, shake and pour. Garnish with dilly beans and olives.

    Covid Cocktails The Covid Colada
    The Covid Colada

    Covid Colada

    (AKA Pina Colada) This blended summer treat takes you away to a tropical island, with frozen chunks of pineapple and nutty coconut/almond milk. In a blender combine 4 oz of rum, a cup of frozen pineapple, 4 oz of coconut almond milk and a splash of pineapple juice. Add a cup of ice to the blender. Pour into two glasses and top with a tropical paper umbrella and forget your Covid troubles.

    The Fauci Fizz

    Covid Cocktails the Fauci Fizz
    The Fauci Fizz

    (AKA Gin Fizz) Make this one really taste like summer using your favorite herb such as rosemary, basil or mint. Make the simpe syrup on the stove top with half a cup water and half a cup sugar and herb of choice. Let cool then strain. In a martini shaker pour 2 oz of gin, juice of one fresh squeezed lemon, 4 oz of seltzer, one egg white and the strained simple syrup. Shake the hell out of it and get your Covid frustrations out. Pour into a pretty glass and garnish with herbs of choice and lemon wedge.

    The Orange Trump Crush

    Covid Cocktails The Orange Trump Crush
    The Orange Trump Crusgh

    (AKA Mimosa) More than a mimosa this is an Orange Trump Crush Mimosa!! Mix 1/4 cup of sugar and zest of one orange on a small plate. Use juice of the orange to wet the rim of your glasses then rim the glasses with the orange zest sugar mixture. Fill half the glass with orange flavored seltzer water, add champagne to about an inch from the top and finish with orange juice. Save the rest of the champagne for the next drink.

    The Pandemic Penguin

    Covid Cocktails The Pandemic Penguin
    The Pandemic Penguin

    (AKA Orange and Lemon Granita) Use the other half a bottle of champagne from The Orange Trump Crush. Pour into a shallow dish. Make a simple syrup of 1 cup water, the zest of one orange and one cup sugar. Let the syrup cool. Add the juice of one orange and the juice of half a lemon to the champagne then mix in the cooled simple syrup. Freeze for three hours, stirring occasionally. Scoop into pretty glasses and enjoy your Pandemic Penguin!

    What The Hell Day Is It?

    Covid Cocktails The What The Hell Day Is It?
    The What The Hell Day Is It?

    (AKA a Dark and Stormy) Ginger is healthy right? Boosts your immunity too! All good things during this virus summer! Get a good quality ginger beer 12 oz. In a blender add the ginger beer, one tablespoon of fresh ground ginger (must be fresh), juice of one lime and about 2 cups of ice. Blend. Pour into glasses and then pour a dark rum (about 2 oz per glass) over the top.

    The Working From Home

    Covid Cocktails The Working From Home
    The Working From Home

    (AKA Coffee with a kick) Use a French Press to brew a very dark rich coffee. Add 1 oz of good whiskey and 2 oz of almond milk. It will make those zoom meeting way more fun.

    The Lemon Lockdown

    Covid Cocktails The Lemon Lockdown
    The Lemons Lockdown

    (AKA Blueberry Lemon Margarita) Squeeze one and half lemons or enough for one cup of fresh lemon juice. Add half a cup of water and two tablespoons of sugar. Set aside. On the stove top make a simple syrup of 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water, zest of one lime and 1/2 a cup of blueberries. Let cool and then strain. Use two chilled glasses and rub a fresh lemon on the rim. Dip the rim into a mixture of salt and sugar on a plate. Add ice cubes to about half way up the glass. Pour in 2 oz of tequila into each glass and 1 oz of triple sec into each glass. Add half the fresh lemon juice mixture to each glass and then top with the cooled blueberry simple syrup. Garnish with blueberries and a lemon wedge. Lockdown never tested so good.

    Bra? What Bra?

    Covid Cocktails The Bra? What Bra?
    The Bra? What Bra?

    (AKA Spicy Bloody Mary) Super simple. Super delicious. Buy premixed Bloody Mary mix. Mix with Vodka. Garnish with Celery stalk, dilly bean, olives…whatever you want. Remove bra before consuming. Unless you haven’t had a bra on for two months.

    The Mask-a-rita

    Covid Cocktails Mask-a-rita
    The Mask-a-rita

    (AKA Pineapple Margarita) Chill two glasses and then rub a quarter of lime around the rim, then dip in salt. To each glass add 2 oz of tequila, 1 oz triple sec, 4 oz of pineapple juice and a squeeze of fresh lime. You can shake it in your martini shaker if you like it a bit frothy. Garnish with a pineapple wedge or lime wedge. You’re gonna need to remove your mask before you can drink it!

    Virus Breakfast of Champions

    Virus Breakfast of Champions

    (AKA Gin & Tonic) Duh. The best summer drink ever so you know I had to add it here. Choose your favorite gin (we usually use less expensive gin like Gordons for this and save the good stuff for the martinis), your favorite tonic (we like Schweppes), lime is mandatory. Over ice pour 2 oz gin, fill glass with tonic, squeeze of lime, garnish with lime. Drink!

    My Corona

    My Corona

    (AKA Beer) Chill. Drink.

    So there you have it. My Covid Cocktails for Summer Lockdown 2020. Enjoy a few of these in the months ahead, for some fun and sane entertainment as we navigate our way through Pandemic 2020.

    Be well everyone. Love you all.

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    Heroes Among Us – A Mother Daughter Team From Washington State Making a Difference in New Jersey

    Heroes among us Covid-19

    I feel kind of lame that the only thing I’m doing to help the world pandemic is staying home, while little angels are working like crazy to provide medical care and compassion during this world catastrophe. Yes, we may not see them but there are heroes among us. In fact a dear friend of mine made the choice to leave Walla Walla Washington and go to where she was needed. This is her story – heroes among us, a mother-daughter team from Washington State making a difference in New Jersey.

    I’ve known Stefanie Lehman for about fifteen years. And I’ve known her daughter Lily since she was a little girl. Stefanie was a massage therapist when I met her, but she always talked about her dream to be a nurse. But as a single mother of three she had to put that dream on hold until her children were grown. Her daughter Lily went through childhood cancer when she was fifteen. Ever since that experience, Lily too talked about being a nurse. Lily is 25 years old today.

    Stefanie was working as a nurse at the Walla Walla Veterans Home Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center, while Lily was working St Francis Medical center in Colorado Springs.

    Mother Daughter Team From Washington
    Mother and Daughter Nurses Stefani and Lily

    Stefani and Lily made the choice to leave their jobs and take temporary assignments in New Jersey – one of the hardest hit areas in the USA for Covid-19. From my cozy, comfy, covid-free home in Washington State I interviewed Stef and Lily about their experience and what they are seeing on the front lines of this pandemic;

    How did it come to pass that you both went to New Jersey?

    Stefani -It was Lily’s idea. During a conversation at the beginning of April, she said to me, “Mom, I want to go, but I’m afraid to go alone.  I have been praying about it but I need a sign.” So I discussed it with my husband Greg and called her back and said I thought we should go together. I applied with the agency and was approved and offered a contract. I think she was going to go anyway, I’m not thinking my presence was going to seal the deal, but I think it was helpful knowing I would be there.  Quitting my job at the VA was difficult, but at the same time, I knew there was something else out there that I needed to do.  Long term care has been an awesome experience, but I think after I’m done here I’m going to pursue a job in acute care and hopefully some day in the NICU or pediatric oncology.

    Lily – I work on a “medical surgical” unit but I am primarily medical, and we specialize in non-intensive cardiac patients and stroke patients. The patient census was half of what it usually is at my hospital,  and I was getting called off probably once a week (out of my three shifts) due to the floor being essentially over staffed at this point. I have always felt a drive to be working “in the trenches” as a nurse.  

    What does the day-to-day work look like for you? 

    Stefani – My shift is usually 3pm to 11pm.   When I get home after a shift it is almost midnight.  I have to strip down to skivvies throwing all my scrubs into a laundry bag, get in the shower, wind down, then sleep.  I usually go to bed around 1:30-2am, waking up about 10 or 11, eating breakfast/lunch and starting all over again.

    Lily – Everyday is different. I am floated anywhere from ICU, or the other 2 ICU overflow units to just another floor to take my own assignment of patients. When we first got here, all the floors were “COVID floors” there weren’t any special units anymore. Just put the people where they fit basically. In ICU I get paired with an ICU nurse since they have 4 patients most days instead of 2 (like they are supposed to have). This takes a load off of them since I can pass most of the meds for them, and take care of everything in my scope, as well as have a second pair of eyes on these critically ill patients. It has been a really cool team effort to be a part of and I have learned a lot from them.

    How is it mentally, physically and emotionally?

    Stefani – The actual job is difficult.  The dynamic in this facility is nothing like what I have experienced in Walla Walla as a new nurse.  It is more like an acute care facility as they have new admits almost every day.  Some are there for rehab or till they are covid negative, and some live there.  Nevertheless, the RN role is rough.  I have had to learn how to multi-task in ways I never thought possible, trouble shoot when there are a lack of supplies, and learn how to handle multiple residents with multiple problems, while trying to pass meds, some that are time sensitive, make sure insulin is given on-time, answering calls from doctors needing lab results, taking calls from family members wanting status updates, and always trying to keep myself protected by wearing two N95 masks,and a face shield, hair covering and a gown.  The gowns are terrible as they make you sweat unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  It’s all you can do to stay hydrated hour to hour. One of the most frustrating things is lack of supplies, especially gloves.  You almost have to lock your box of gloves in your med cart because people will actually take them.  A lot of these residents take their medications crushed in applesauce, and when you can’t find any, it’s rough.  I sometimes will have to walk all the way down to the kitchen to get some, or call for some, but I have found when they bring it up, another nurse will intercept it and put it in their own cart –  this has happened to me twice and I had to say “Hey, I need some of that”!  It’s very frustrating.

    Lily – It’s hard to be in a new place, with unfamiliar equipment, unfamiliar people, and just every policy, protocol, process, etc, you have to figure out as you go, on top of the existing stress of being a nurse. But the day flies by and everyone at my hospital has been really kind and helpful. 

    Mother Daughter team from Washington
    Stefani and Lily in New Jersey

    Do you have any free time?

    Stefani – I do have 2 days off usually.  Lately it has been Sunday and Monday.  Lily and I tried to get the same days off, and so far so good.  She has an actual schedule, and they only give me 2 to 3 days at a time.  I have been lucky to stay busy, but as their actual staff are coming back from their Covid illnesses my hours this week are a little less.  I’m hoping to pick up additional hours at their facility in Wayne, NJ.  when I do have free time I try to get caught up on laundry, and clean up in my room.  They do not have housekeeping services “in room” at this hotel for safety reasons, so I can call and ask for fresh linens/towels, toilet paper, and vacuum my own room.  I’m thankful to be in a nice hotel that is right next to the NJ police department and the Federal Reserves.  I was out walking a couple weeks ago, and walked down the side walk where the Federal Reserve building is, and I saw a police officer walking towards me, so as a courtesy to social distance, I stepped out into the street, and then he stepped out into the street, and I thought, oops, maybe I’m not supposed to be walking here. He asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was a travel nurse with the day off out for some fresh air.  He politely redirected me.   They mean business over there!

    Lily – I have 3 days off per week, so I try to do things that feed my sanity, like walking in beautiful parks, seeing the ocean, coloring, watching Friends on TV (I think that’s a go-to for both me and my mom), or of course, enjoying a nice glass of a good red! 🙂 

    What does NYC feel like in lockdown? 

    Stefani – Lily and I drove to NYC once so far. We went to Times Square.  No traffic whatsoever, some people walking on the streets, all with masks, police EVERY where on every corner.  We were able to park the car, and walk around a bit and do a live video so that was nice.  I have never been here before, I have only seen pictures of the traffic, but there was absolutely no traffic at all.

    Lily –  It is really bizarre to see NY so scarce. Like, I remember being here when I was 16 with my grandma, and we could barely get down the sidewalk. You could do cartwheels for an hour down the sidewalk and not run into anybody now. I think it’s eerie but also for sure a once in a lifetime experience to see such a famous city like this during lockdown. Really put things in perspective of how scary this has all become.  

    What would you like the average person to know about the situation from a health care providers point of view? 

    Stefani – Hmmm that is a hard one.  I know this is serious.  We are dealing with an actual pandemic, something I never thought would happen in my lifetime.  Working with most of these residents who are COVID positive is pretty scary, but I’m doing my best to stay protected.   We are living in a world now where things have changed.  The old normal will not be the new normal, and that will be something we all will need to get used too.  It bothers me a little when people get so angry about having to wear a mask.  To me, its not that big of a deal. Let’s let the dust settle, and see what comes next.  There are rules and laws for a reason, not just to make people mad.  I am in the thick of it, and I am scared sometimes, especially being on the other side of 50 now, maybe I have some immunity built up, maybe I had it and didn’t know it, who knows?  I pray every day God will keep Lily and I and all the healthcare workers safe.  I do my best to NOT watch news while I have time off.  

    Lily – My grandma was a doctor who transferred by dog sled to help Eskimos and other native Alaskans in their home during a surge of tuberculosis for a large part of her career and I think that tenacity of hers was passed on to me to just get out there and help where I can. It all happened so fast that I definitely feel it was a God-send, at least that’s what I hoped. My recruiter was awesome and tried the best she could to put my mom and I as close together as possible.

    Stefani – I am glad I made the decision to break out of my comfort zone and come to New Jersey.  Not to be a hero, not for attention, I did this to help make a difference even if it is in the smallest of ways.  I came here to be with my daughter, and do something meaningful together.  As a new nurse at 50 years old, I really knew there was more out there for me than what I was doing.  I loved my job at the VA, I was sad to leave it, but in my gut I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my nursing career which may be only 15 years, retiring at 65.  I want to pursue acute care, and pediatrics.  I have learned that I have thicker skin than I thought, and I can actually call myself a nurse and feel good about it!  Do I have a lot to learn? Yes, absolutely.  I loved learning from the seasoned nurses I worked with at the VA, and they helped me gain the tools and confidence I have today.  Having confidence in yourself as a nurse is huge!  I don’t think I’m 100% confident all the time, but for the most part, that has been a big part of being able to be here, knowing I CAN do this.  I am proud of myself, I powered through the most difficult situations in nursing school, clinicals and taking the NCLEX.  It was the most brutal life changing experience I have ever faced, leaving me with a little PTSD.  Nursing school was traumatizing, but I am glad I didn’t quit, and lord knows there were times I was in tears to my husband saying “I’m too old for this, I can’t do it.”  But with his love and support, and having an “I am not going to quit” attitude, here I am– A graduate nurse at 50 years old, living across the country with a new RN license, fulfilling a dream I’ve had for over 10 years.  I did it! I’m a “fabfiftysnurse” and I cant wait to see what the future holds!!

    Lily –  I would like people to know that just from what I have personally seen, it doesn’t matter what age you are or what your immune system looks like, I have watched people die anywhere from a perfectly healthy 29 year old, to a 87 year old, and all the ages in between. I don’t think the virus cares what your body has or hasn’t dealt with, it attacks in such different and unique ways in many people, a lot of them really unexpected. There was one man in particular who was 40, and had been on the ventilator for almost 27 days. I really hadn’t done much that day because I was a “helper” in the critical care unit. I felt really useless but helped the nurses where I could. They are very busy. I offered to face-time this man’s family so they could see him (the only way they could see him since there are no visitors allowed) before the shift ended. I basically lost it seeing his wife, children, and brothers cry, and laugh and talk to him for 30 minutes as he laid their unresponsive. This man was 40 years old, he had children in elementary school that had to look at him with his eyes swollen shut. It really broke open a piece of me that I hadn’t let really manifest yet. That’s a moment I’ll never forget. 

    Whatever the media says, or you neighbor says, take everything with a grain of salt. Just live your life, be careful, don’t take your loved ones for granted. Much love!

    Thank you my friends.

    Heroes among us Covid-19. THANK YOU Stefani and Lily and the thousands of medical workers who put their own healthy and safety second to help the tens of thousands of people in the USA suffering from Covid-19.

    God Bless you all.

    Please share Stefani and Lily’s story.

    Heroes among us
    Heroes Among Us
    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    I know this book has had a wide range of love and criticism. I have purposefully not followed all of that because I wanted to read the book with out that baggage. I’m glad I did, I enjoyed the book very much.

    I went into the story thinking it was about detention of illegal immigrants and the holding of illegal immigrants in the USA. So I was surprised to learn it wasn’t about that at all. Instead it’s about the trial and peril Mexican and other Central American migrants put themselves through in an effort to get away from certain death in their home countries.

    Following the mass murder of her entire family, Lydia escapes Acapulco with her son Luca. She knows she is being hunted by Javier, someone she thought was her friend but who has killed her family and now wants to kill her.

    On their journey to cross into the USA Lydia and Luca endure ordeals that are unimaginable to most of us. They are traveling with other undocumented immigrants- a wide representation of the human beings who need to escape certain death, rape and torture. Not all of them will make it across the border.

    This book is brutal and told with depth and despair. I enjoyed the writing and the story.

    *****Five stars for American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins.

    Read last week’s review of No One Will Tell You This But Me

    My current read Middlemarch by George Eliot

    At Home  --  Everything Else Fabulous

    Running on Empty – Hal Higdon’s Training Program

    Hal Higdon's training program

    This week I started training for a half marathon, using Hal Higdon’s training program. Ouch. I feel like I’m running on empty, as I still am settling back into my new chapter here in the Pacific Northwest.

    Even though I run regularly, it’s been about six years, maybe more, since I ran a half-marathon. Back then I was running one or two half-marathons a year, and finding it a great way to stay fit and healthy, and clear my mind.

    Hal Higdon's Half Marathon training program
    Finish of the Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon

    But when traveling, finding time to run long distances, or even to run at all, has been difficult. But now here we are back home, waiting to see when and if we can travel again, so there are no more excuses. Time to train and get back in shape.

    My husband used Hal Higdon’s training program when he was running marathons. He has run 7 or 8 marathons, so when I was ready to try a half, he set me up with the program.

    Higdon, a life-long runner, accomplished marathoner and Olympic Trial alum currently is a contributing editor to Runners World Magazine. He developed his training programs to help both novice and experienced runners reach their training peak at the optimal time to be successful in a distance run.

    Hal Higdon's Training Program
    Finish of the Gig Harbor Race for a Soldier

    I’ve used this training program multiple times and have always felt prepared when the big day finally arrived. The training is a 12-week plan, and starts with a 3 mile run.

    I know you think you could never run a half-marathon – I thought that too. But with the right training, just about anyone can do it. In all the races I have run since I started running about 12 years ago, I have always crossed the finish line. And the finish line is my only goal. I don’t agonize over my time, I don’t chastise myself if I need to stop, stretch or walk for awhile. I set my sights on finishing the race. And that is what Hal Higdon’s training program has done for me.

    So for the next eleven and a half weeks, I’ll be running with Hal. Want to join me? Here is how you too can get started. Let’s spend our lockdown summer running and getting in shape! You will be amazed what it does for both your body and your mind and we all need that right now don’t we?

    I’d love to hear from you if you want encouragement or to run virtually with me this summer.

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    See this week’s top performing pin here.

    Hal Higdon's Half Marathon training program
    Hal Higdon's Half Marathon training program